Latin America


We're going to hear now about another place plagued by violence - violence of a different sort, criminal violence, Juarez, Mexico.

The planned release of a video game that glorifies murder and mayhem in the city is sparking an outcry. French video game company Ubisoft plans to roll it out this summer. It's called "Call of Juarez: The Cartel."

As NPR's John Burnett reports, critics on the border are already condemning the game.

JOHN BURNETT: A screen-shot of the game pictures an outlaw in a flak jacket and cowboy hat, gripping a shotgun, next to the words: Welcome to the new Wild West. Take justice in your own hands - on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez. The industrial border city across from El Paso has become Mexico's murder capital, and by some estimates, the homicide capital of the world. Last year, there were an average of eight murders a day. The majority were victims of a savage turf war between two rival drug cartels. In a particularly violent 72-hour period, from last Thursday to Saturday, 53 more people were gunned down. They included two police officers and a state investigator.

Professor HOWARD CAMPBELL (Anthropology, University of Texas, El Paso): In Juarez, there's been a real tremendous outcry against this video because people see it as really the ultimate in dehumanization of the people of Juarez.

BURNETT: Howard Campbell is an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who closely follows the drug war across the river in Mexico.

Prof. CAMPBELL: More than 8,000 people have been killed in the last four years in Juarez and it's not something to joke about. Their problems are so severe and then, for people to sort of mock them and make light of them, is very, very insulting.

BURNETT: The Chihuahua state legislature has asked the federal government to forbid sales of the video in Mexico. A spokesperson for Ubisoft says the game is purely fictional and for entertainment purposes only, created more as an action-movie fantasy than a portrayal of life in Juarez.

Last year, MAC, a New York-based cosmetics company abandoned Mexican sales of a makeup collection that caused similar objections because its ashen hues were said to be inspired by the corpses of murdered women in that city.

John Burnett, NPR News.

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